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Karl Newman, President
Darrin Sanger, Communications Director     
NW Insurance Council    
Phone: (800) 664-4942
Fax: (206) 624-1975 /Follow on Twitter/karljnewman /Follow on Twitter/darrinsanger

Disaster Preparedness Resources

30 years later: Mount St. Helens Blast a reminder to be ready

SEATTLE - Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Mount St. Helens eruption that rocked the Northwest and is a grim reminder that natural disasters can strike at any time with little warning and cause massive damage.

The Mount St. Helens blast stacked up 40,000 insurance claims and caused $27 million in insured losses - that's $71.3 million in today's dollars.

Though natural disasters like volcanic eruptions are hard to predict, developing a disaster preparedness plan can increase your chances of saving your family and property from a catastrophic loss.

"Mount St. Helens is still active," said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president, "and the other volcanoes in the region are dormant, not extinct, so the risk to lives and property from volcanic eruption is very real and should not be taken lightly."

The Northwest has a wide variety of natural disaster risks - volcanoes, earthquake, flooding, tsunami, wildfire, landslide, severe windstorms and freezing weather.

Fortunately, you don't need a completely separate disaster preparedness plan for each type of disaster. Put together a comprehensive plan that takes into account all of your risks.

The NW Insurance Council offers the following tips to help you develop an effective plan for surviving the next disaster:

  • Develop an effective disaster preparedness plan. Visit
  • Develop an emergency kit that includes at least a four-day supply of drinking water and food you don't have to refrigerate or cook. The kit should also contain first aid supplies, a weather radio, batteries, clothing, blankets, medicine, copies of your insurance policies and some basic tools. More disaster planning resources are available from the Red Cross.
  • Review your insurance policies to be sure you have the right coverage to meet your needs. Find out what your insurance will cover. Most Homeowners Insurance policies do not cover damage caused by flood, earthquake, landslides or tsunamis.
  • Flood Insurance can be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program. You can purchase earthquake coverage separately through your Homeowners insurance company.
  • Develop a Home Inventory of your personal property. A complete inventory of your possessions will help you and your adjuster get through the claims process more quickly, including insurance settlements and/or tax deductions for losses. Don't trust your memory. List descriptions, take pictures and include receipts when possible. Store your home inventory and insurance papers in waterproof containers offsite in a safety deposit box or with a friend. You can access free, downloadable Home Inventory software from the Insurance Information Institute.
  • Become familiar with your community's disaster preparedness plans.
  • Plan an escape route in the event you have to evacuate your home. Check with city or county officials for low points in the event of a flood or tsunami.
  • Determine the location of the nearest official shelter. The Red Cross can locate shelters near your home and explain what you should take with you.
  • Agree on a meeting place for your family in case local communications networks are offline. Also determine a virtual meeting place such as a voicemail box or online social networking site.
  • Designate out-of-state contacts in case you can't communicate locally.

For more information on protecting your family, home and business from a disaster, visit or contact NW Insurance Council at 800-664-4942.

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.